The Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) has reacted angrily to the State Attorney-General's recent criticism of legal practitioners and has called for the government to focus more on civil justice reforms.
The calls follow Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls' scathing comments regarding legal practitioners, about whom he made the following comments: "While most lawyers do the right thing, there are still some who love the sound of their own voices and think they are treading the boards rather than helping the court resolve disputes."
LIV president Steven Stevens said the legal profession - including the LIV, Victorian Bar and the Department of Justice - support the aims of the Civil Procedure Bill 2010 and have been working co-operatively for two years with Chief Justice Marilyn Warren on details of the proposed Bill.
"It is a pity that the Attorney-General has chosen to divert attention from the reforms by descending into unfounded criticism of the profession," said Stevens.
"These comments come out of the blue and have no relevance to Victorian courts. The Attorney-General should refer his criticism to his counterparts in NSW and Western Australia if he is so concerned."
Stevens also responded disapprovingly to Hulls' claims that the actions of legal practitioners result in excessive court costs, and that time is wasted by barristers "unnecessarily addressing the courts", saying there is no evidence to suggest Victorian practitioners waste time or resources during trials.
"Both barristers and solicitors in this state support an efficient judicial process and have been working hard to deliver more efficiencies for the courts," he said.
"We are in favour of reducing the cost of litigation."
Stevens said the LIV would continue to work closely with the courts and the government in order to implement "worthwhile" reforms to the profession.
"We would appreciate the Attorney-General treating the courts and the legal profession with respect and not as a political football," he said.
"We call on the Attorney-General to implement these important reforms urgently and avoid delays by creating unnecessary smokescreens."